Attack and arson bid in Gurung den – Bank and post offices to remain open: Morcha

The Telegraph

May 9: A house whose occupants claimed they had no political affiliation was vandalised last night with an attempt to torch the wooden structure after locking up the family inside the kitchen which is not part of the main house.

Palden Lama of Darjeeling’s Ramitay Dhara said a gang of 15 men barged into his house at 8.30pm and terrorised his family. The area is part of the constituency which Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung once represented as the DGHC councillor. Gurung’s house is 500 metres from the Lama residence.

The party today announced that it would allow work under the NREGS, Indira Awas Yojna and the Integrated Housing Scheme Development Programme besides the census. Banks, post offices, and municipalities will also be allowed to function.

The Morcha while announcing the two-day strike in the hills — on May 15 and 16 — yesterday had said all state and central government offices would remain shut from Monday.

Last night’s attack is being seen as a ripple effect of the clash between the student wings of the GNLF and the Morcha yesterday when posters demanding Sixth Schedule status were pasted by the Gorkha National Students’ Front in Damber Chowk in Kalimpong.

“The gang of 15 went about systematically vandalising the entire house. They even poured petrol and tried to torch the house. The flames had just started licking, but we managed to douse them. We were terrified,” said Lama.

The latch on the kitchen door had been loose and Lama, his wife and seven-year-old daughter were able to come out on their own.

Neighbours said the gang was not from the locality. A relative of Lama who did not want to be named said: “Lama is not involved with any party.” The family alleged that the gang decamped with Rs 40,000 and six tolas of gold. Lama has filed an FIR at Darjeeling Sadar police station against “unknown miscreants”.

In Kalimpong, where the Morcha took out a rally today, its leaders accused the state government and the GNLF of working hand in glove to impose Sixth Schedule on the hills, even though the people have already rejected it.

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